Investigation continues into cause of fatal fire

IFD: Home did not have working smoke detectors

INDIANAPOLIS - Authorities don't believe foul play was involved in a fire that killed a family of six in Indianapolis, but say the investigation to determine its origin and cause may be lengthy because there were no survivors.

Forty-seven-year-old Lionel "Leo" Guerra, and his 33-year-old wife, Brandy Mae, died Saturday, as did their 11-year-old son, Esteban, and 8-year-old daughter, Blanquita. Fourteen-year-old Miranda and 6-year-old Fuentes died Sunday.

Fire Department spokeswoman Capt. Rita Reith says autopsies are being performed on all six, but it will be several weeks before toxicology results are confirmed for exact causes of death. Firefighters found the six family members unconscious inside the small bungalow-style home Saturday.

Officials said there were no working smoke detectors in the house. Authorities said most people die of smoke inhalation rather than burns. As fire and smoke spread, victims can become disoriented and die from a lack of oxygen.

"If you have a burning sensation, you cough a lot and inhale and more toxins get into your lungs. So the irritants cause more damage the deeper they get into your respiratory system," IFD Chief David Kelley said.

Reith says it is the largest single loss of life for a family because of a fire in the department's history.

A family friend worried that the front security door may have prevented their escape.

"One time I came over to take the cat back and it took the mom five minutes to find the key to get that door open, and so that's the first thing I thought of," family friend Robin Douglas said.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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